Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Winter Solstice!

The Winter Solstice happened very early this morning, right after midnight. Things can only get brighter for the next six months, although it will probably get colder before it starts to get warmer.

From my viewpoint, both of these things can only be good. It hasn't gotten really cold yet, and in spite of having my windows wide open, it's been around 80 degrees in my apartment all day.

I'm about to make myself sound old, but I really am old enough to have seen a change in climate, and I can see that things are getting warmer.

OK, when I was a kid, I lived in, and later right outside Philadelphia, and now I live near Washington DC, but there shouldn't be that much difference in Winter temperatures. By the beginning of December, we would have had at least one snowfall, and it would be cold enough for us to ice skate almost anywhere there was water, except in the channel of the Pennsauken Creek, where there was running water and it didn't freeze. At this point, I still need to keep my windows open in my sauna (which my apartment building manager euphemistically calls "my apartment") to stave off heat stroke.

When I looked for photos of the Winter Solstice on the internet, all I got was photos of snowy landscapes. But if you look out my window, it really doesn't look like that at all.

It rained today! It was all drizzly and warm (not for Summer, but definately for this time of year). Something is seriously out of whack with our weather!


I hope you've finished getting/making all your Christmas presents! I, personally, am so far behind that I've given up completely, and explained to everyone that this Christmas is such a disaster that only a few people will be getting Christmas presents, and it has nothing to do with how I feel about each individual, it's based on whose present I happened to make first, and I hope I'll do better next year.

I finished up all the stockings I've been making on commission, and delivered the last three today only to discover that there's a dispute about the date on one of the stockings. Although I put the date I was told to put on it, it may not be the right one. I can fix it, but I'm waiting on confirmation of the date before I do that.

So, the stockings aren't completely done.


If you're up for it, you can track Santa and what he's up to via NORAD!

I just realized that my former Christmas countdown at the bottom of the page is no longer working, and have replaced it with a temporary countdown timer. I'll get a better one in there soon, but in the meantime, at least you can see how much time is left.

And to get you in the Christmas spirit, here's something that's been wandering around the internet so long that nobody can remember where it came from, but it's a lot of fun:

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all around me
Was unfinished knitting not under the tree.
The stockings weren’t hung by the chimney with care
’cause the heels and the toes had not a stitch there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds
but I had not finished the caps for their heads.
Dad was asleep; he was no help at all,
And the sweater for him was six inches too small.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I put down my needles to see what was the matter.
Away to the window, I flew like a flash,
Tripped over my yarn and fell down with a crash.

The tangle of yarn that lay deep as the snow
Reminded me how much I still had to go.
Out on my lawn, I heard such a noise,
I thought it would wake both dad and the boys.

And though I was tired, my brain was a bit thick,
I knew in a moment, it must be Saint Nick.
But what I heard then left me perplexed-ed,
For not a name I heard was what I had expected
“move, Ashford; move, Lopi; move, Addie and Clover
Move, Reynolds; move, Starmore; move, Fraylic–move over”
“Paton, don’t circle round; stand in line.

Come now, you sheep wool work just fine!
I know this is hard semi, it’s just your first year,
I’d hate to go back to eight tiny reindeer.”
I peered over the sill; what I saw was amazing,
Eight woolly sheep on my lawn all a’grazing.

And then,in a twinkle, I heard at the door
Santa’s feet coming across the porch floor.
I rose from my knees and got back on my feet,
And as I turned round, Saint Nick, I did meet.

He was dressed all in wool from his head to his toe
And his clothes were handknit from above to below.
A bright Fairisle sweater he wore on his back,
and his toys were all stuffed in an Aran knit sack.
His cap was a wonder of bobbles and lace,
A beautiful frame for his rosy red face.

The scarf round his neck could have stretched for a
And the socks peeking over his boots were Argyle.
The back of his mittens bore an intricate cable,
And suddenly on one I spied a small label.
SC was duplicate stitched on the cuff,
and I asked “Hey Nick, did you knit all this stuff?”

He proudly replied “Ho-ho-ho, yes I did,
I learned how to knit when I was a kid.”
He was chubby and plump, a quite well-dressed old man,
And I laughed to myself for I’d thought up a plan.

I flashed him a grin and jumped up in the air,
And the next thing he knew he was tied to a chair.
He spoke not a word, but looked in his lap
Where I’d laid my needles and yarn for a cap.

He quickly began knitting, first one cap then two;
For the first time I thought I’d really get through.
He put heels on the stockings and toes in some socks
While I sat back drinking Scotch on the rocks!!

So quickly like magic, his needles they flew,
That he was all finished by quarter to two.
He sprang for his sleigh when I let him go free,
And over his shoulder he looked back at me.
And I heard him exclaim as he sailed past the moon
“Next year start your knitting sometime around June.”

-Author Unknown

And here's a little something for Christmas. Check out how to put a twisted fringe on the side or in the middle of something you're knitting here ! This is really cool!

If I don't get a chance to blog before then, have the best Christmas ever!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Today's Lunar Eclipse

I had intended to blog about this before the event, but didn't realize it was this morning instead of tonight. But since it was best viewed from Asia, most people one the East coast wouldn't get a great view of it anyway.

You can see some spectacular photos of the event here, along with information about the eclipse including links to other sites. NASA's Lunar Eclipse page has more information about this and other eclipses as well as general eclipse information.


Most of my time has been taken up lately by two things: Finishing the last three Christmas stockings for the commission I'm working on, and finishing the cover of the third Steve Canyon on DVD, plus the slipcover for all three DVDs for people who bought all three. You can see the art, and simulations of the art at the link.

But. I have been doing a little knitting for a new design. I showed this photo in my last post.

I have since finished the whole scarf, and even darned in the myriad ends, but haven't taken a photo yet. It turned out beautifully, though, and I'm reknitting it in a better yarn with a few small modifications, mostly in relationships of sizes and spaces of various parts of the scarf. It has a braided section near each end, making it look rich and gloriously understated. This cries out for cashmere or mohair for a luxurious scarf. It's not what you usually think of as a Celtic Braid, but it really is. And, being a scarf, it's reversible! I hate it when scarves aren't reversible!

And I finally got together the money for a newer computer, which is a nice little laptop iBook (G4). It's not new, but is a big upgrade from the computer I have. I also obtained the software I need to lay out and make PDF files of knitting patterns, so this pattern may be available soon. It's possible I'll also redo my free patterns as PDFs, too.


Some people have been bemoaning the fact that the Home and Garden and the DIY Networks have pretty much stopped showing craft shows and are only showing home improvement. I can understand it for HGTV, but for DIY, it's inexcusable!

I recently discovered that one of the local PBS stations has more than their original UHF broadcast station and on one of the new, HD stations they broadcast, they show Knitting Daily and Beads, Baubles and Jewels.

A lot of Knitting Daily is stuff I already know, but there are some unexpected gems thrown in there, even for experienced, skilled knitters. One of those gems taught me to do a twisted German cast-on, which is a much stretchier cast on, and almost makes a small rolled edge that I think is very pretty, and so I'm using it for a lot of things. If you want to learn that, you'll have to record all the shows until it comes around again, and then play that part of the show, back and forth until you catch on to what they're doing. At least I did.

The other show, Beads, Baubles and Jewels, has reawakened my desire to make silver jewelry. I used to have a business (Maxwell's Silver Hammer) and made a meager living making silver jewelry. The show is great because although it shows the usual beading techniques, it also shows some very advanced and sophisticated silver work involving torches and other advanced equipment!

I want to buy some silver and a torch!

I've been restraining myself, but I have bought some jewelry pliers and some charms to make stitch markers from. They've been mailed to me and should arrive any day now. In fact, they could be downstairs waiting for me to pick them up on Monday. Packages can be delivered to my apartment building, but we can't pick them up except during office hours.

Anyway, I bought some good quality jewelry pliers at a highly discounted price. They're especially engineered to be ergonomic, and especially designed to fit women's hands, although I think they'd work fine for guys, too. The handles are longer to give you more leverage (like the really expensive ones), and therefore stress your hands less, and the handles are shaped to make the business end at a more ergonomic, comfortable angle to work with. And, on top of that, they're even pretty! I love good tools! They can make or break your work.

Here are photos of three that I ordered: First the round nose pliers .

And needlenose pliers . These also have a cutter in them!

And a pair of longnose pliers .

And if these turn out as great as I hope they do, I want to order the three-in-one pliers . This looks like it would be very handy. Sort of an improvement on rosary pliers.

They also have two different cutters that I can't decide between.

Supplies are important, and they wind up being the finished product, so if you skimp on them, you don't have as good a project as you otherwise might, but tools are forever. You'll use them over and over again and they have the power to make your projects shine, or make them look like they were made by someone who didn't know what they were doing.

I also ordered some charms, and some knitters I know may get some stitch markers for Christmas. If I can part with any of them. I'm even thinking about checking out the jewelry making magazines.

Well, all this hasn't even arrived yet, so there will be a lot more to write about.


In the meantime, The Holiday is on, and it may be my favorite Christmas movie. I'm recording it, but I have so much to do that I haven't been doing that I need to stop writing and get something done so I can watch it again. It will be on again between now and Christmas if you want to catch it. Just check your local listings, and the 21st keeps running through my head as a date that it will be on. No guarantees, but you could start looking there.

Only 15 days until Christmas!

If you're making presents, better get moving!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Happy December!

Happy December!

Here's a reminder: If you scroll down, there's a countdown to Christmas at the bottom of this page.You can find out how much time you have before those presents have to be ready.

I finally have a photo of a knitting project that I can actually post! In other words, it's not a Christmas present that the person it's for can see it and ruin the surprise, and it's not another Christmas stocking that's exactly like all the others except for the name and date on it.

This struck me as a good idea, and I've been knitting it in between all the other things I'm doing. The photo shows a project that still has ends to darn in, but I think you'll get the idea that it's going to be a really neat scarf.

In case you're curious, that scarf is actually braided.

I plan to write a pattern for it, and also for a hat and a set of mitts/mittens to match.


I know I haven't been writing much lately, but that should improve a bit with the new year.

I've been working on a commission for Christmas stockings like the ones I did a few years ago. It's getting down to the wire on Christmas things and there's a lot to knit on them. They're all colorwork, and there are SO many ends to darn in! Not to mention having to consult a chart every few stitches! So, they're really slow going!

In addition to that, we're getting to the end of the Steve Canyon on TV DVDs, and there's suddenly the slipcase to do, and the third cover to finish. A lot of the work on the third cover was done a while ago, but I have a photo to colorize for it, and all the finishing touches (at this point) for the slipcase.

And now I have to get back to work on it all.

Have a great week!